October 1, 2012
Edwin Starr and the NL MVP Race
Most of the MVP attention this year has gone to the American League race, between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout and whoever finishes third, maybe Michael Young. And most of the Edwin Starr attention since 1970 has gone to the song "War," which regards what it (war) has generally been shown to be good for, notably nothing, in the absolute sense. Surprisingly, the two—"WAR," and the AL MVP award—have bumped into each other one or twice or all of them.
But there is another MVP race going on this year. And there are other songs that Edwin Starr wrote, and across the country sportswriters are working on columns that bring the two together. I have excerpts of these still-in-development sports columns.
The San Diego Padres drew the third-lowest number of fans in the National League this year. Between their West Coast time zone and their also-ran status, few of their highlights would ever make it onto SportsCenter. Even in San Diego itself, there is a good chance you can’t find them on your television because of an ongoing cable war. So you can be forgiven for not knowing all that much about what Chase Headley has done this year, and he can be forgiven for wondering where his name is in the MVP discussion. It’s like that old Edwin Starr lyric:
Instead of planning picnics, Headley was quietly putting up a top-10 WARP in the National League, a figure that might actually be low if you are (as I am) skeptical of his defensive metrics. Few voters will give him the proper credit for what his home numbers really mean -- passing jumbo jets have been known to land just shy of the warning track in Petco -- but he’s a .297/.388/.536 hitter on the road. No matter. Headley’s doing just fine. Like that old Edwin Starr lyric:
The Pittsburgh Folded Newssheet:
The last time a Pittsburgh Pirate finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting was 1992, and it was Andy Van Slyke. Other players who got votes that year: Bip Roberts, Ozzie Smith, etc. Old human beings. But Andrew McCutchen will change that, even with the Pirates collapse, because McCutchen represents everything that went right with the Pirates’ season: bunch of young kids having fun. They aren’t worried about their bank accounts or their endorsement contracts. They’re just living for today! Keep your veterans, your free agents, your Hall of Famers, your expectations. The Pirates have no use for expectations. They just want to swing! It’s like that old Edwin Starr lyric:
Look, I’m not against these new stats. I look at all the evidence. All the data, as the smart guys might say. But at the end of the day, the point of the game is to score runs, and to score runs you need to hit, and more often than not I’m just going to pick the best hitter. You know who the best hitter is? It’s Ryan Braun. He leads the league in total bases, in OPSBI, in runs created, in game-winning RBIs I assume, and even in the sabermetricians’ favorite advanced metric, OPS. He’s just a hitter, and, as the Houston Astros proved this year, you can’t win without hitters. As a hitter, Braun is slick. He’s a slick hitter. He can’t be tricked up there. And let me tell you: He ain’t never made a mark he couldn’t hit. It reminds me of that Edwin Starr lyric:
The St. Louis Not A Blog Online Newspaper:
It was after a big win, and I asked Yadier Molina what it was that made him so good. He looked me in the eye, and put a hand on my shoulder. He told me, “I’ve got a reputation of being Gentle, but bold. And that’s why...”
“...they call me Agent Double-O Soul, baby.”
As I left, he called my name. I turned.
“Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On!” he called.
The San Francisco Partisan:
Buster Posey should be the MVP because Buster Posey has made me so happy. It’s just like that old Edwin Starr lyric: